‘We need more ferries to serve Spike Island’

‘We need more ferries to serve Spike Island’

Spike Island is going to need more ferries to bring tourists to visit the historic former fort. That’s according to county councillor, Seamus McGrath, who points out that the only ferry running now is from Cobh. He has proposed opening up new access points including Crosshaven, Haulbowline, and Ringaskiddy.

FERRY access to Spike Island from the south and west of Cork Harbour is needed to deal with an influx of visitors attracted by its status as Europe's top tourist attraction, according to a former Mayor of Cork County.

The 103-acre island recently beat off competition from the Eiffel Tower and Buckingham Palace to be named as the continent's best tourist attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards.

Over 45,000 people visited the island this year, the first full year it was open, and Cork County Council wants to grow that number to 100,000 by 2020.

The island is only currently accessible by ferry from Kennedy Pier in Cobh and an increase in visitor numbers will cause capacity issues for the town.

Owing to the island's newfound popularity, Councillor Seamus McGrath said access is needed from the south or south west of the Harbour, from places like Passage West, Ringaskiddy or Crosshaven.

Mr McGrath has asked County Council to consider new ferry access points to the island and said this request has been met with an "open mind".

"We need to have some access. It certainly is an issue we need to keep on the agenda," he said.

"Spike Island won the European award recently. It's an area that is going to grow in demand and we have to provide alternative access other than Cobh because there are capacity issues there, so we need to look at alternative options.

"It makes sense to open it up to other parts of the harbour," he added.

Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District Officer Kevin O'Regan said: "The nearest points in the Harbour to the south and west of Spike Island are Ringaskiddy and Haulbowline and Crosshaven respectively." 

Mr McGrath's motion will now be referred to both the county engineer and the director of economic development, enterprise and tourism.

Spike Island was a monastic settlement which became a location for British artillery in the 18th century and was later used as a prison where inmates were kept before being sent to Australia in the 19th century.

It has recently had €6m invested into it by Cork County Council and Fáilte Ireland.

The site came only came under Irish control in 1938 and was opened as a prison again in 1985 until 2004.

A local steering group was established in 2009 to explore its suitability as a tourist destination after plans for a new prison fell through. Since 2015, tours have departed from Cobh which explore the island fort, prison cells and military items of interest.

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